On November 16, 1985, Florida
police discovered the body of Anita Spearman, she had been bludgeoned to death
in her home. It was a brutal and seemingly motiveless crime. This
murder would eventually lead the detectives to Richard “Doc” Savage
and uncover a nationwide conspiracy of paid assassination, bombings and intimidation.
When the police pulled Sean
Trevor Doutre over for a traffic violation, they found a 9mm Uzi with 52 rounds
of ammunition and a .45-caliber pistol with a silencer along with $6,080.00
in cash and expensive jewelry. They hauled Doutre in for questioning.
Under intense interrogation
Doutre admitted that he worked for a man named Richard “Doc” Savage,
the head of an interstate murder-for-hire crew. Doutre said he met Savage
through an ad he answered in a magazine for professional adventurers and thrill-seekers
called “Soldier Of Fortune.” Savage also used the same magazine
to advertise the services of his contract killers.
Doutre said that Savage had
dispatched him to Texas, Georgia and Kentucky to fulfill murder contracts.
Savage had recently ordered Doutre to kill his wife Linda because he felt she
knew too much about his murder-for-hire operation. Savage had also sent
Doutre to Florida to pick up drugs and he was putting a plan together to hijack
a gold shipment in Alaska.
Savage was currently under
investigation for the Anita Spearman murder in Florida but this didn’t
seem to bother him, he continued booking contracts.
The detectives were stunned,
they didn’t know whether to believe Doutre or not. Nevertheless,
facts were missing in his story and he was careful not to incriminate himself.
He was released on $10,000 bail.
Savage had a background in law enforcement, the military and corrections.
His spare time was spent browsing the classifieds in his favorite magazine,
“Soldier Of Fortune.” The magazine was launched in 1975. It
was designed for Vietnam War veterans and law enforcement officers. The
magazine was distributed worldwide and was available everywhere.
The classifieds were very
popular, some of the ads read: “Married man looking for an expert in poisons
to kill his wife.” “World Security Group: Ex-Marines, Nam Vets,
weapons specialists, jungle warfare, political high-risk assignments in U.S.
or overseas.” “Gun For Hire: Nam sniper, instructor, SWAT, pistol,
rifle. All jobs considered. Privacy guaranteed.” Male/Female
assassin tag teams also advertised as well as women with military backgrounds.
One issue offered $10,000
dollars in gold for the capture of Idi Amin. The magazine also offered
$1 million dollars to anyone who could capture a Soviet M-24 helicopter gunship
and deliver it from Nicaragua. The magazine attracted men who liked adventure,
guns, knives and martial arts.
Savage decided to place an
ad in the 10th anniversary issue. The ad read, “Gun For Hire: 37
year old professional mercenary desires jobs. Vietnam veteran. Bodyguard
and courier with special skills; all jobs considered.” The ad also
gave telephone numbers for business and home.
The phone rung off the hook,
most of the calls were from husbands looking for someone to murder their wives.
One man wanted his wife killed because she didn’t look the same
in a bathing suit. Most of those who didn’t want to hire a killer
contacted Savage to become hit men. Savage decided to delegate the jobs.
He would coordinate the negotiating and planning. Savage quoted a price
of $20,000 per hit.
Richard F. Braun was marked
for death. A crew was dispatched and a bomb was planted under his car
but it exploded before Braun climbed inside the car. The crew would kill
him at a later date.
Savage lined up other jobs
for his crew. The crew was hired to burn down a chicken farm, a few days
later, a smoke bomb burned down the farm.
A few months later, a camouflaged
and masked man stepped from behind a tree and fired several shots into an intended
victim, killing him instantly.
Robert Black hired Savage
to kill his wife to collect on her life insurance policy. Kay Black returned
home from shopping and was ambushed by a killer who shot her execution style,
A Texas man, Albert Lee Thielman
hired Savage to murder his wife and children for their life insurance money.
A bomb was made. Thielman booked a surprise flight for his wife and children
and placed the bomb in her luggage. During this time, before 911, airline
security was lax.
The bomb didn’t go off,
instead, a thin wisp of smoke clung to the underside of the aircraft and passengers
reported hearing a popping sound.
The bomb attempt got the FBI
involved. They began an investigation on the movements of Albert Lee Thielman,
they searched the family home and his office.
Under intense pressure, Thielman
confessed and gave the authorities Savage’s name. The FBI began
to close in on the Savage gang.
Savage and his crew were arrested
and charged with murder in several states, along with arson, explosives and
Richard “Doc” Savage was tried and convicted. He was sentenced
to a total of 40 years in federal prison after completing the 25-year prison
term he was currently serving in Arkansas and the 40-year term he still faced
Members of Savage’s
crew received 25-40 year sentences.
Robert Spearman was convicted
of conspiracy in the murder of his wife Anita Spearman, he was sentenced to
life in prison without parole.
Albert Lee Thielman was sentenced
to death for trying to blow up his wife and children on an airplane.
By early 1986, “Soldier
Of Fortune” magazine was out of the business of accepting the type of
classified ads used by Savage.
The survivors of the victims sued the magazine.
Kay Black’s family
was awarded $7.5 million in punitive damages and compensatory payments of $1.5
million. The sons of murder victim Richard Braun were awarded $12.4 million.
Source: “Gun For Hire:
The Soldier Of Fortune Killings” by Clifford L. Linedecker